Friday, February 19, 2010

What are you DOING?

I have discovered that your youngest child starting preschool, marks the beginning of an endless stream of well-meaning comments along the lines of "you mustn't know what to DO with yourself now you have so much spare time".  Usually from either mums with small kids (I completely GET where you are coming from - I have had 'all the kids out of the house envy' for many, many years) or mums who are working.

I was chatting to a friend at play group on Monday who said she was sick of feeling like she needed to be DOING stuff all the time.  "What is the obsession with DOING?",  she asked me.

I know that I've felt a bit guilty over the past few weeks that perhaps I've wasted some of this precious child-free time and not been efficient with it.  Not DONE enough!

It goes back to a post I wrote a few weeks ago about not being a supermum.

I'm starting ( v e r y  slowly) to recognise the value of not always doing.  Last week I had my first migraine.  It came at the end of a normal, very busy week.  I found it quite scary.  To me, it was a signal that I needed to stop DOING.  In fact - it forced me to stop.

Over summer,  I had a standard reply to everyone's questions about what I was going to do with ALL my spare time.   I said that I planned to sit down, have a cup of tea and just stare at a blank wall for a while.  In reality, it feels like three weeks ago I sat down, starting staring at the wall and then couldn't get up again - worn out from a decade (plus) of constant demands!  Still haven't tidied up that play room properly yet.

It's a marathon, not a sprint, I keep telling myself.

7 comments:

Peter Sholl said...

I think it's a myth that you suddenly have all this available time just because your kids are out of the house. When did you ever spend a day doing nothing but caring for Abbie? She may be at preschool but all the other jobs, responsibilities and opportunities are much the same. There's still the washing, shopping, cooking, cleaning, organising, administration, emails, exercising, socialising, encouraging, teaching, serving, planning, studying, Bible reading. Your hours between 9:30 and 2:30 are far from empty!

In addition to this, the emotional needs of your kids are increasing, especially starting kindy. Plus the increased pressure of more after school activities as they all get older. Your hours after school are becoming much fuller and your evenings are becoming shorter (as kids go to bed later). It's a kindness of God that he's compensating with a slightly lighter load during the day. Don't feel that you've got to load more stuff on yourself.

Keep trusting that God will give you the strength to equip you to do the good works that he has prepared for you. And for someone like you, you don't need to go looking for them!

Put the whip away and enjoy the tea!

Sarah

Jenny said...

Thanks Sarah for the encouragement!

Sarah Condie said...

Hear hear from another Sarah - I am looking forward to sharing a cup of tea with you!!!!!

Motherhugger said...

I've had a few weeks with all kids at school and what have I been doing? Mostly making schedules for myself to work out what I should be doing. The plan is shifting as things around me change. Today I packed up the kids' toys that they don't use (we've been keeping them because I like them or visitors play with them) and I took them to the op-shop. I feel I've drawn a a line under the preschool phase and I'm reclaiming the house!

Jean Williams said...

I love this post and I keep coming back to it and re-reading it. I have no doubt it will appear on my blog in all honesty sometime, as it has on my friend Meredith's (no, that wasn't advertising, despite appearances, just letting you know who I am! :) ) - I am feeling so very like you, warn out by my own "decade (plus) of constant demands!". Thank you so much for writing this and for letting me know I'm not alone (my youngest goes to kinder next year, so I'm a year behind you). It's such an odd stage of life - lots of my friends are struggling in similar ways! There's more going on in my head about all this, but I'll leave that for another day.

Jenny said...

Thanks Jean - I'd love to hear more thinking on this. Two things I wasn't prepared for were feeling sad at the end of the baby stage and feeling lost at the beginning of more independence by the kids. I suspect that not much is written on this in the secular world because so many people have babies and keep going with paid work. So this transition isn't so obvious. I also think as Christians we need to be challenged to consider carefully how we're going to use this time and not just think about returning to paid work as the default position.

Jean said...

Amen to the last sentence, and that's one of the things that I (bravely and foolishly) want to write about. It's hard to write about when you don't want anyone to feel bad because they feel like you're condemning what may be for them the godliest decision: a return to work. But I wish that Christian women were at least encouraged to consider the alternatives. Perhaps I'll have the energy and courage to write about this later in the year! In the meantime, I'll look out for any posts you write on it! :)